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Latin America, Caribbean call for more international funding at CELAC meet

Countries from Latin America and the Caribbean have called for more international funding in the region following economic and climate crises, in a final declaration after a summit held in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.

“We stressed the need for international regional financial institutions, such as the Multilateral Development Banks, to improve credit facilities through clean, fair, transparent and accessible mechanisms,” the document said on Tuesday.

The 111-point “Declaration of Buenos Aires” from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ (CELAC) seventh summit described how effects of Covid-19, climate crisis and the war in Ukraine had rippled across the region.

“We express our concern that several countries emerged from the pandemic with higher levels of public debt,” it said.

The statement also stressed the importance of democracy across the region, expressed support for negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opposition, and demanded the United States lift its blockade on Cuba.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sent a recorded message saying he had chosen not to attend due to “permanent conspiracies, the permanent threat, calculated ambushes.”

READ MORE: Brazil’s Lula meets Argentina’s Fernandez in first international trip

‘Brazil is back’

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s presence at the summit meanwhile marked his first trip abroad since taking office on January 1, as well as Brazil’s return to CELAC after his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro left the community.

“It is with great joy and very special satisfaction that Brazil is back in the region and ready to work side by side with all of you, with a very strong sense of solidarity and closeness,” said Lula.

Lula has been pushing to rebuild Brazil’s standing among the international community, which waned under the tenure of Bolsonaro, who withdrew his country from CELAC due to the presence of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba in the bloc.

Lula also underscored deepening of dialogue among “extra-regional partners” such as European Union, China, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the African Union.

Lula thanked regional leaders and officials from 33 nations for their support in rejecting the actions of far-right supporters of Bolsonaro who rioted and invaded the three branches of government in the nation’s capital Brasilia, calling the threats “authoritarian temptations.”

Lula, one of the founding members of CELAC, was an influential figure during the “pink tide” era as many Latin American countries pivoted to the left amid a new wave of regional leftist leaders from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.

During his first official visit to Argentina, Lula has also touted the idea of the “sur” [south] as a financial counterweight currency to the dominance of the US dollar for trade in Argentina and Brazil.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, however, has said his country will not join a common currency project.

“We wouldn’t agree to that,” he said, while underscoring the need for a US dollar-backed domestic currency.

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou was a dissenting voice at CELAC, calling on leaders to not have a one-sided vision according to their ideology, and saying “there are countries here that respect neither democracy nor institutions nor human rights.”

He did not identify any nation by name.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was voted to take over CELAC’s rotating presidency for 2023.

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